ORPHIC FRAGMENT 90

OTTO KERN

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For links to many more fragments: The Orphic Fragments of Otto Kern.

SUMMARY: This fragment consists of two quotations which discuss the region above the heavens (the supercelestial).


90. (116) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος 396 b. c p. 60, 26 Pasqu.:

ἦ δῆλον ὡς ὁ ὑπερουράνιος τόπος καὶ < add. Pasqu. e Platone> ἀχρώματος καὶ ἀσχημάτιστος καὶ ἀναφὴς οὐσία καὶ πᾶν τὸ νοητὸν πλάτος, ὡς μὲν ἂν ὁ Πλάτων (Τίμαιος Πλάτωνος 31 a) εἴποι, τά τε νοητὰ ζῶια περιέχον (Pasqu.] περιέχων codd.) καὶ τὴν | 61 Pasqu. μίαν τῶν αἰωνίων πάντων αἰτίαν καὶ τὰς κρυφίους τούτων ἀρχάς, ὡς δ᾽ ἂν οἱ Ὀρφικοὶ φαῖεν, ἄνωθεν μὲν ὁριζόμενος τῶι Αἰθέρι, κάτωθεν δὲ τῶι Φάνητι - πάντα γὰρ τὰ μεταξὺ τούτων συμπληροῖ τὸν νοητὸν διάκοσμον.

“Is it not evident that they are, the supercelestial place, an essence without colour, without figure, and without the touch, and all the intelligible extent? An extent comprehending, as Plato would say, intelligible animals, the one cause of all eternal natures, and the occult principles of these; but as the followers of Orpheus would say, bounded by æther upwards, and by Phanes downwards. For all between these two gives completion to the intelligible order.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816)

σχόλιον Ἑρμείου επὶ Φαίδρου Πλάτωνος 247 c (Φαῖδρος Πλάτωνος 247 c: τὸν δὲ ὑπερουράνιον τόπον οὔτε τις ὕμνησέ πω τῶν τῆιδε ποιητὴς οὔτε ποτὲ ὑμνήσει κατ᾽ ἀξίαν. “But of the heaven which is above the heavens, what earthly poet ever did or ever will sing worthily?” trans. Benjamin Jowett, 1892) p. 146, 28 Couvr.:

εἰ μὲν ποιητὰς ἀκούοιμεν τοὺς τρίτους ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας, τουτέστι τὸ πλῆθος τῶν τῆιδε ἀνθρωπικῶν ποιητῶν, ὥστε ἐξαιρεῖσθαι τοῦ λόγου Ὅμηρον καὶ Ὀρφέα - εἴρηται γὰρ αὐτοῖς περὶ τοῦδε τοῦ τόπου, καὶ Ἡσιόδωι καὶ Μουσαίωι -, πρόδηλον τοῦ λόγου τὸ ἀληθές, ὅτι τῶν τοιούτων ποιητῶν τῶν πολλῶν καὶ τεχνικῶν (τεχνίτω M) | 147 Couvr. οὐδεὶς ἐφικνεῖται (ἀφικνεῖται M) ἐκείνων ἀξίως, ἀλλὰ τῶν ἐνθέων ποιητῶν οἷος Ὅμηρος καὶ Ὀρφεύς. εἰ δὲ πάντας ἁπλῶς ἀκούοιμεν τοὺς ποιητὰς ὥστε καὶ Ὅμηρον καὶ Ὀρφέα περιλαμβάνεσθαι, δῆλον ὅτι καὶ ἑαυτὸν συμπεριλαμβάνει, ὡς οὐδὲ αὐτὸς ἀξίως εἶπεν δυνησόμενος· ὡς ἂν οὖν εἰ ἔλεγε ‘τὸν δὲ ὑπερουράνιον τόπον οὐδεὶς μὲν τῶν ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἐν τῆι ποιήσει ἀξίως ὑμνήσει, μόνος δὲ ὁ Ἀπόλλων καὶ ὁ τῶν Μουσῶν χορός.

“If we wish to hear and understand the poets who are three degrees from truth, that is to say, the multitude of the human poets, inasmuch as to exclude from consideration Ómiros (Ὅμηρος) and Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) – for they spoke about this place, and Isíodos (Ἡσίοδος) and Mousaios (Μουσαῖος) as well - the truth of the account is clear, that of poets from many books, of those who compose from cleverness, not one writer attains as much, but, rather, (the best comes) from the inspired poets such as Ómiros and Orphéfs. But if one means simply all the poets, including those such as Ómiros and Orphéfs, it is clear that he also includes himself, since he said that not even he would be capable (to write about this) in a worthy way. In fact, it is as if he said, ‘Indeed, concerning the region above the heavens (the supercelestial), there are no men worthy to praise this in poetry, but (the only ones worthy are) Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων) and the dance of the Mousai.’ ”

(trans. by the author)

Cf. fragments 99. and 107.


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

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Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

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We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.


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